Jury duty – every citizens duty and responsibility to serve and I was happy to do my part. After going to the wrong building … twice (have I told you I am not very good with directions?) I found my way to the court house. I have been called to serve before but didn’t have to go because I was 8 months pregnant the first time and having a bad Ulcerative Colitis flare the other.
I was kind of excited to serve, then I found out once we got going that it was an OVI case. What was my responsibility here as an alcoholic / addict in recovery? I feel that it was my duty in court to explain my situation past and present. As I sat in the gallery, I debated what I should do. Everyone seated in the jury box that was being questioned either did not drink at all or drank very little and none of them ever drank and drove (at least that is what they claimed). This obviously was not my experience with alcohol and other substances.
I decided if I got called to the jury box, I would have to tell my experience with alcohol … Do I tell the whole court room or ask for a sidebar with the judge and explain the situation in private? I wasn’t sure and I didn’t have to find out as they seated the 8 man jury before I was called. I am still not sure what I would have done if called. Why is there still such a stigma on addiction? Why are we ashamed of who we are and what we have overcome? I am not sure without hearing the evidence of the particular case, but since I have become sober I don’t tolerate drunk driving very well, I have heard too many scary stories. Have I driven under the influence … absolutely I have and I have many friends burdened with OVI’s. Would I have sympathy for the defendant since I have been there, again without hearing the evidence I don’t really know.
This whole case was a conflict of interest for me in so many ways, but it has really made me stop and think about drinking and driving and my feelings about it and how lucky I am that nothing happened to me or anyone else when I drove under the influence. I am grateful to be sober and not have to worry about things like driving under the influence anymore. I did want to reach over to the defendant and give him the number to AA. Maybe I can’t be unbiased when it comes to alcohol.